Bunzl has recently set up and invested in a very special new business, created specifically to support its clients through the implementation of the European single-use plastics ban, and to help the Group meet its own commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
From its base in the Netherlands, Verive (pronounced to rhyme with ‘arrive’), provides innovative solutions in sustainable food packaging and tableware, but in a very unique way.
The new company was launched in May 2021, just ahead of the European Union’s single-use plastic ban, when businesses all over the continent began making significant changes to their operations in order to comply with the strict environmental directive. The new law prohibits the production and distribution of items including plastic cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, cups, food and beverage containers which are made of expanded polystyrene and all products made of oxo-degradable plastic.
They adhere to the following three commitments:
- the product line must feature items made only from renewable or recycled resources
- they are reusable, recyclable or compostable
- items must be responsibly sourced
Among some of Verive’s other unique features is its exceptional client support: it delivers invaluable expert advice to all customers, regardless of size.
Many clients will see this as a very helpful service. Environmental guidelines are constantly evolving, which is a positive impetus for the retail or hospitality industries to integrate more eco-friendly practices into their offering, however, staying abreast of the latest trends and standards can also be a minefield for even the most well-meaning businesses.
The team of specialists at Verive have created a dedicated service that aims to educate and offer training to clients in matters of recycling, sustainability and compostability. Yet curiously, you won’t find any biodegradable products in their range.
According to Verive’s Manager, Lauren Mooney, there is a very clear distinction between compostable (leaving no harmful residue after breakdown) and biodegradable, a term frequently misappropriated by a tidal wave of industry wide ‘green-washing’. ‘All compostable materials are therefore a type of biodegradable material - but not all biodegradable materials are compostable. Even when a material meets the standards for compostability, correct disposal is critical. Many compostable materials won’t break down in a home composting heap, instead requiring extra heat, water, oxygen and micro-organisms in an industrial facility. Some compostable materials can contaminate plastic recycling streams, so careful consideration of the available waste infrastructure will make the difference between a product being sustainable or environmentally detrimental,’ says Lauren.
This distinction speaks volumes about the level of commitment and research that have gone into creating the Verive range and the breadth of the knowledge the team will be imparting to its clients.
The support they provide includes a risk assessment, consulting services and training as standard, but clients can delve into the issue much more deeply and order a full assessment of their business in relation to their sustainability goals.
Lauren, whose previous role was Bunzl’s Sustainability Coordinator for Continental Europe, has been leading the project with the support of teams all over Europe in a very dynamic and collaborative way. Much of Verive’s workforce is outsourced to Bunzl’s sister companies, drawing on local expertise to define and source the product range, meaning customer needs are placed front and centre.
In terms of their commercial practices, Verive runs a webshop as a point-of-sale for small and medium sized companies, but also distributes directly offline via operating companies in Europe. To make it environmentally cost efficient, Verive has outposts in Bunzl warehouses elsewhere in Europe.
Bunzl Food Service, in the Netherlands, Bunzl Grosshandel in Germany, King and Variapack in Belgium and MultiLine in Denmark have all jumped at the opportunity to stock and distribute Verive’s new product range.
Lauren states, ‘Verive can secure a very strong position in the distribution market, thanks to the team’s expertise, but also because we are not manufacturers. As a result, we are truly independent and impartial, and we will consistently choose suppliers that are innovating and delivering cost effective products, designed to comply with the latest sustainability guidelines.’
Lauren freely admits that sustainable products are not yet available at the same price point as plastics, but as the business grows, Verive will be leveraging the scale of its orders to appeal to its clients, old and new.
Verive’s webshop went live last month, so it’s still too early to bring up figures, but so far, the interest has been overwhelming and the initiative shows great promise. However, because no success story is ever completely free of drama, the launch date was threatened, not by Covid-19 as one might expect, but by the marine traffic back-up in the Suez Canal in March this year. Luckily, the delivery arrived in time, ready to be dispatched to some ecologically minded clients all over Europe… but not without a little nail-biting in the process.
You can find out more about Verive, by visiting: www.verive.eu.